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Genus Hibiscus Family Malvaceae

Description: Trees, shrubs or herbs with stellate tomentum.

Leaves often lobed, margins usually crenate or toothed.

Flowers usually axillary, solitary. Epicalyx segments 5 or more, free or fused. Calyx 5-lobed. Petals mostly showy with a darker basal spot. Staminal column truncate or 5-toothed at summit with numerous filaments. Ovary 5-locular with usually >3 ovules in each loculus; style branches 5, spreading; stigmas capitate.

Capsule loculicidally 5-valved; seeds glabrous, tomentose or woolly.

Distribution and occurrence: World: 300 species, tropical & subtropical regions. Australia: c. 35 native species, with several others introduced; all mainland States, mostly arid & tropical regions.

Many species are cultivated as ornamentals, resulting in isolated records of some native species outside their natural range. H. cannabinus L. is being grown experimentally in Australia for paper pulp and associated products. H. insularis Endl. is considered endangered on Phillip I. (near Norfolk I.). H. mutabilis L., the Confederate Rose, was erroneously listed as naturalized in Jacobs & Pickard (1981). Ref. Wilson (1974).

Text by A. S. Mitchell & E. H. Norris
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Annual herb or short-lived perennial; calyx membranous and inflated after flowering2
Trees, shrubs or subshrubs; calyx neither membranous nor inflated after flowering4
2Mid-stem and distal leaves lobed to the apex of the petiole; pedicel 0.25–0.6mm longHibiscus tridactylites
Mid-stem and distal leaves not lobed to the apex of the petiole; pedicel 4–20mm long
                       Back to 1
3Seed glabrous, 2.5–2.8mm long; style branches 0.6–1 mm longHibiscus verdcourtii
Seed hairy, 2.0–2.6mm long; style branches 2.3–5.2mm long
                       Back to 2
Hibiscus richardsonii
4Flowers either more than 5 cm long or if 3–5 cm then yellow; trees or shrubs; areas east of the Divide5
Flowers either less than 3 cm long or if to 3.5 cm then pink; subshrubs; areas west of the Divide except for garden escapes
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5Epicalyx segments free to the base; stipules linear6
Epicalyx segments united at the base to form a cup; stipules leafy
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Hibiscus tiliaceus
6Leaves with glands present on dorsal basal midrib; peduncle articulate at the base7
Leaves without glands; peduncle articulate c. 10 mm below flower
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Hibiscus splendens
7Erect or spreading shrub 1–2 m high, stems with a fine pubescence and interspersed with pricklesHibiscus diversifolius
Erect shrub or small tree to 6 m or more high, glabrous or glabrescent, stems with prickles
                       Back to 6
Hibiscus heterophyllus
8Upper leaves entire; capsule silky9
Upper leaves lobed; capsule glabrous or hairy, but not silky
                       Back to 4
9Indumentum rustyHibiscus sturtii
Indumentum white, velvety
                       Back to 8
Hibiscus krichauffianus
10Small low-growing shrub up to 0.5 m high; corolla 10–15 mm long; capsule glabrousHibiscus brachysiphonius
Shrubs 1–5 m high; corolla 30–60 mm long; capsule hairy; garden escape
                       Back to 8
11Leaf lamina of distal leaves deeply 3-lobed with central lobe obovate to narrowly obovate, longer than lateral lobes, 2–7 cm longHibiscus pedunculatus
Leaf lamina of distal leaves very broadly ovate to orbicular in outline, palmately but shallowly 3–7-lobed, 5–15 cm long
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Hibiscus mutabilis

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